Windows systems

The Windows environment in the group is based on a Windows domain, HEP2K8. Two PCs (pcib and pcic) act as the domain controllers, running Windows 2008 server. The majority of the desktop PCs run Windows 7 Professional. Some notes on installation of a Windows 7 PC into the domain are available, but are mainly aimed at administrators, and the operations discussed require their intervention, so the average user should not need to be concerned about them.

When logging in, users should make sure that they are doing so into the HEP2K8 domain (and not the local PC). When changing passwords, users should be aware that these are now synchronised between Windows and Linux - so changing it on one platform changes it everywhere.

Windows systems are generally named pcxx.hep.phy.cam.ac.uk. The naming scheme we use is discussed elsewhere.

An automatically generated list of the computers and printers in the domain can be found here.

Rebooting

If it is necessary to reboot your machine, please follow the procedure below. Do not simply switch off your machine. Not only does it take longer to reboot, but you may also trash the local disk. You are recommended to check with the management if at all possible before rebooting. If rebooting is a required frequently, you should definitely talk to the local administrators, as it may indicate something that needs investigation.

  • Check the system box for a label indicating that the PC serves a special function. If the PC does have such a label, you must contact a local administrator before rebooting (or be prepared for ritual disembowelling by the other users).
  • If you are logged-in, type Ctrl-Alt-Del and select either the "Shut Down" or "Restart" menu item. Choose the appropriate option.
  • If you are not logged-in, type Ctrl-Alt-Del to get the login window and select either the "Shut Down" or "Restart" option. This might be greyed-out, in which case you will have to login first.

Printers

To set up a printer, go to "Settings" in the Start Menu, then "Printers and Faxes". Use the "Add a printer" menu item to enter the Add Printer Wizard. When you reach the "Specify a printer" page, use "Find a printer in the directory" and click "Find now". This will display the various printers - there is a description of the printers available on this page.

File system

Most of the disk space provided for Windows users is served from the Linux systems. This makes data backup simpler as all archiving can be done on one (Linux) system. The discussion of disk space accessible to users is on a dedicated page. The local disks on the Windows systems are usually split into two partitions, C: and D:. C: contains the system and is backed-up from time to time as a convenience if we need to recover the system. D: is intended for volatile users' files and is NOT generally backed-up. The CD-ROM drive is usually mapped to the drive letter M:. We use SAMBA  to serve the users' home and other general directories. This allows users to see the same environment on any of the Windows desktops. Typical file systems are (users may not have all the following drive letters defined, but you are strongly recommended not to change those that are defined without discussing it with the administrators, and to use the letters below when newly defining a mapping):

  • Z: - the home directory is mapped to this drive. It is also visible via \\ad\HEP\users\<user>. It is served from pcfc (Linux) at present. Your roaming profile is stored in Z:\profile.w2k and Z:\profile.w2k.V2. You should also find the four special folders "My Documents", "Application Data", "Desktop" and "Start Menu" in your home directory. The home directory is backed-up once a week with daily incremental backups. There is a quota imposed on the Unix file system serving this share, which unfortunately isn't transmitted by SAMBA to Windows. The administrators will monitor the disk usage, however, and warn users who are nearing their quota limit. Your home directory is available as /pchome/<user> under Linux.
  • Q: - the top of the DFS tree - mapped to the share \\ad\HEP. All shared folders can be found in this tree.
  • Q:\pcshare
    (/pcshare on Linux) contains shared application software
    Q:\work
    (/work on Linux) is intended mainly as a Linux scratch area (and hence is never backed-up). It is served from pciv (Linux).
    Q:\users
    (/pchome on linux) contains all users' home directories. As it is a superset of all users' Z: drives, it is backed-up.
    Q:\pc_backup
    (/pc_backup on Linux) is intended as a general Windows scratch area. However, it is backed-up weekly. It is served from pciv (Linux).
    Q:\web
    (/web on linux) is the web server filespace. It is served from pcff (Linux).
    Q:\lhcb
    (/lhcb on linux) is the lhcb area.

We run three separate SAMBA servers. Authentication is done to the Windows domain - if you change your Windows password your access to SAMBA shares will be maintained without any further intervention.

The frequencies of the different disk backups are mentioned above - there is a page which discusses general backup policies and mechanics, which you should look at if you want to know more detail than is necessary.

Tapes

We have a LTO5 (1.5TB native) autoloader,  for handling tapes, which resides on a Linux system. This is used mainly for archives nowadays - it is relatively rare to use tapes for data transfer to other sites with the modern, fast networking we have available. It also has hardware compression, which can typically give a gain of 2:1 in capacity. Access is not trivial from Windows systems.

Terminal services

Two computers (pcja and pcje) are set up to provide Windows terminal services. That is, users can start Windows sessions on these desktops from a remote machine. Connections are possible from both Linux (using the rdesktop command) and Windows (using the Remote Desktop application). The service is likely to be of most interest to Linux users who wish to make occasional use of Windows applications such as Microsoft Office. These two desktops are running Windows 7. In principle the other Windows desktops in the group provide a similar facility, but this is only useful if the primary user is logged off.

Applications and tools

VirusScan

We run VirusScan from McAfee as this is supplied free via a University site-wide deal. Do not tamper with the settings - it is important that the data files and scan engine are kept up-to-date to protect us as much as possible. There is a more detailed discussion of this and other aspects of protecting ourselves from the bad guys in the Security section

Cygwin

Cygwin is a suite of Unix tools for Windows. It includes many of the familiar Unix shell tools including ssh, ghostscript, the XFree86 X server, the gcc compiler and many more. Use the command line tools from within the Cygwin bash shell.

ssh

Use either PuTTY in the Programs menu, or the command line ssh from the Cygwin bash shell.

X

NX is now the recommended application for opening an X session. Sessions may be opened using NX client which can be found in the Programs menu.

Cygwin's XFree86 is still available for now. Use "More Programs/XFree86" to open an X-windows session. You can either run the Xserver without starting a session on a remote machine (select X from the menu), or you can start a remote Xsession from any of our PCs that are configured to allow it (select Xchooser from the menu and choose the remote host from the list).

e-mail

Look at the web page elsewhere which describes the use of e-mail within HEP on all platforms.

Web browsers

We recommend the use of Firefox as the preferred web browser on Windows systems in the group. Internet Explorer is also available.

CD Writing

We have several CD writers either permanently attached to Windows systems, or able to be connected via a USB port. "Easy Creator CD" is available to make writing CDs straightforward.

Others

All Windows desktops should have Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat installed, amongst other things. If there is some product that you feel would be generally useful, please feel free to suggest it.


Steve Wotton and John Hill Last update 9 August 2016.